AHLA Bed Bug Fact Sheet

The hotel industry takes the health and safety of their guests very seriously, and that includes ensuring pest-control procedures are in place to prevent and eradicate any pests, including bedbugs, that might seek to invade their properties. Although bedbugs can be easily transmitted anywhere and are often wedged in luggage or on clothing, AHLA and the hotel industry cannot underscore enough the industry’s focus on the importance of cleanliness and its high level of vigilance in using proactive measures and services, including regular inspections and monitoring, in order to detect any potential problems early. AHLA continues to work closely with the National Pest Management Association to retain the latest information on bedbugs and to share updates and resources to our members. 

For further information contact the NPMA. NPMA also sells a host of resources to assist in your efforts.

Bed Bugs Tools & Resources 

The Facts on Bed Bugs

According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), Bed bugs have become a major pest control concern as their populations have continued to rise over the last decade.

Bed Bugs: What Are They? 

  • Blood-feeding insects; 
  • Light-tan in color, turning dark-red or brown after feeding; 
  • About 1/4 inch long, flattened before feeding and swollen afterward; 
  • Easy to see with the naked eye, but difficult to find while hiding; 
  • Feed once a week on a sleeper’s exposed skin for several minutes at a time; 
  • Bites are painless and not felt by most people, but could leave a hard bump with a whitish center that can itch for many days; 
  • Parasites, but there is NO evidence they spread disease like other parasites; 
  • Able to survive up to 10 months between blood meals if necessary; 
  • Nocturnal; 
  • Attracted to carbon dioxide and body heat; 
  • Able to lay up to 500 eggs in one lifetime; 
  • Able to repopulate themselves and re-infest a room in just three to four months; 
  • Extremely mobile, can hide just about anywhere and be carried in anything; 
  • Create a sickly, sweet smell in an infested room; 
  • Can hide almost anywhere, including in upholstered furniture nightstands, headboards, bedding, lamps, picture frames and luggage; 
  • May also be found in unexpected places, like the telephone, behind electrical switch plates, under carpet edges or carpeting, light fixtures, housekeeping carts and folds of draperies or curtains. 

A Quick History of Bed Bugs 

  • Pestered humans since pre-historic times; 
  • Many species found in the United States – human bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) is the most common; 
  • Mostly eradicated in the U.S. around World War II 

Bed Bug Prevention

When staying at a hotel or motel, keep these bed bug travel tips in mind. It is important that you take some precautions to ensure that your room is bed-bug free before you settle in. 

Tips for Travelers 

  • At hotels, pull back the sheets and inspect the mattress seams, particularly at the corners, for telltale stains or spots. If you see anything suspect, notify management and change rooms/establishments immediately. 
  • Thoroughly inspect the entire room before unpacking, including behind the headboard and in sofas/chairs. If any pests are spotted, change rooms/establishments immediately. 
  • If you do need to change rooms, be sure that you do not move to a room adjacent and/or directly above/below the suspected infestation. Bed bugs can easily hitchhike via housekeeping carts, luggage and even through wall sockets. If an infestation is spreading, it typically does so in the rooms closest to the origin. 
  • Consider placing your suitcase in a plastic trash bag or protective cover during the duration of your trip to ensure that bed bugs cannot take up residence there prior to departure. 
  • Remember: bed bugs travel by hitching rides. After your trip, inspect your suitcases before bringing them into the house. Vacuum your suitcase thoroughly before storing away. Consider using a garment hand steamer to steam your luggage, which will kill any bed bugs or eggs that may have hitched a ride home. 
  • Wash all of your clothes - even those that have not been worn - in hot water to ensure that any bed bugs that may have made it that far are not placed into your drawers/closet. 

Tips for Hotel Staff

The best prevention is daily inspection.  Employees should inspect rooms for bed bug activity every day by inspecting: 

  • guestroom linens; 
  • mattress and boxspring seams; 
  • headboards; and 
  • bedding. 

Staff should be looking not only for live insects, but also for cast skins or speckles of dried blood or excrement on furniture or in places where bed bugs hide.

Close attention to cleaning guestrooms should be paid by vacuuming rooms and accessories daily; inspecting incoming furniture and wall hangings that may have been stored or warehoused; and inspecting and repair loose wallpaper and cracks in baseboards to reduce areas where bed bugs can settle.

*Information provided by the National Pest Management Association, Inc. Please visit their website at www.pestworld.org for more information.